Journalists with a focus on social issues have a new branch of reporting to explore.
The Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) introduces its free toolkit that outlines how to write stories that report responses to social problems rather than reporting solely on the issues.
“As journalists, our job is to hold up an accurate mirror to society,” SJN writes in its toolkit introduction. “If we fail to cover the many ways people and institutions are trying to solve problems — successful or not — we fail to do our jobs. If we only cover the systemic problems in schools and ignore the models that are working to improve education, we are not telling the whole story.”
The 48-page toolkit provides tips on how to identify a solutions story, crafting a solutions-oriented pitch and includes interviews with reporters at The Seattle Times, NPR, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the Houston Chronicle.
Here are some highlights to keep in mind:
Find an issue that’s been solved multiple times and figure out which method produced the best results. Highlight the success and failures of a city, company or person’s solution so others can learn from their accomplishments and mistakes.
For a solutions journalism story, focus on the how. Doing this allows you to narrow in on the steps in the process. Asking how, SJN writes, gets into the “nitty gritty of how change happens.”
When pitching a solutions-oriented story, include information on how your story idea relates to the bigger picture, what the news hook is and why you’re the best reporter to write the story.
Promote and share your story on social media as a way to engage readers and foster discussion.
Look at other solutions-based stories for inspiration, such as how New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio looked to Sweden for road safety ideas or how a Seattle high school is changing the way it teaches AP classes.
Check out the entire Solutions Journalism Toolkit by clicking here.
Main image CC-licensed by Flickr via allison.